Image: Screenshot / The Sims 4 / EA
The Sims, one of the best-selling games of all time, has allowed players to do some pretty hilarious (and in some cases downright macabre) things over the years. From drowning hapless sims in ladder-less pools, to exploring the tombs of ancient Egypt, to playing rock-paper-scissors with the Grim Reaper, players are given a fairly free rein.
The Sims is based on the premise of choice. You, the player, choose what your sim will look like, what their personality will be, what they’ll wear, what they’ll do… and their gender, which had to be male or female.
In an update released on Friday, the EA game opened up the option to create sims with any gender attributes. The previously gender-locked appearance and clothing options are now open to every sim, to cater for every gender identity.
And The Sims fans are pretty damn excited about it. A post about the new Create-A-Sim options on the game’s facebook page generated over 13,000 likes and over 1,000 comments. Among the comments, the sentiment is one of overwhelming gratitude to game developers. “The Sims was my first safe outlet for exploring same gender romances before I came out, now I can include genderqueer Sims,” Edward said. “Thank you more than words can express.”
Sydney imagined the reaction of a young transgender person. “I am now picturing a queer young person opening [The] Sims for the first time and making a sim of themselves first, like we all do when we open [The] Sims for the first time, and making it how they wish they could express themselves and I am crying.”
It may seem like a small step, but in a world that has marginalised people who identify outside of the gender binary, it’s a solid win.
What would happen if other games allowed players to create gender-fluid, transgender or non-binary people? What would happen if playing a cisgender character in a game was a choice, not a rule?
The Sims, already arguably one of the most progressive games on the market, has laid down a challenge to other developers. Not all gamers are cisgender, white men. The team behind The Sims knows that.
Will this mark a significant moment for diversity in gaming? Only time will tell, but for a franchise that in its first iteration barred same-sex couples from marrying, it has come a long way. The next frontier for some The Sims fans is to allow users to select the pronouns allocated to each individual sim. Modern life has arrived in The Sims universe, and it is beautiful.